Worth a Thousand Words – Wildflowers in Death Valley

Desert gold landscape at sunset 2-2016

Death Valley National Park has the hottest overall temperatures on earth, including the highest recorded air temperature of 134 degrees. With an average of less than two inches of rain a year, the plants there manage to eke out their survival in harsh conditions.

So during the rare years when several inches of rain show up in a few months in fall and winter, it’s miraculous for plants. The long-dormant seeds burst out in carpets of wildflowers across the desert floor. Luckily for me, for five days in February I was able to experience this spectacle.

I have stories to share about my journey in a future post. For now, it’s all about photos of the flowers.

Desert five-spot close-up 2-2016
Desert five-spot, an uncommon flower

Desert goldDesert gold, the showy and densely growing flower that turns entire landscapes yellow

Scented cryptantha
Scented cryptantha, easy to miss with its tiny blossoms

Notch-leaf phacelia 2-2016
Notch-leaf phacelia—I was glad a ranger warned me that touching it can cause a rash

Brown-eyed evening primrose at dusk 2-2016The night-blooming brown-eyed evening primrose, at sunset as blossoms opened

Lesser mojavea
Lesser mohavea

Golden evening primrose 2-2016
Golden evening primrose soon after sunrise, with the notch-leaf phacelia

Fremont pincushionPebble pincushion, the only one of this species that I saw

Purplemat 2-2016Purplemat

Desert-star 2-2016
Desert-star, looking like miniature daisies

Gravel ghost 2-2016
Gravel ghost

(Two additional Death Valley posts feature my adventure in a storm and more landscapes.) For more of this ephemeral beauty, check out Death Valley National Park’s video about this year’s bloom.


  1. Thank you for the beginning of what I hope will be several “illustrated blogs”. We are so glad you took the opportunity to be part of the amazing bloom in Death Valley. Looking at your first flower pictures (and the video you suggested and one more that “popped up” that ended with a wonderful sunset) was a lovely way to end our evening at home. It helped us remember that we are but a small part of the world and its life – a life that includes the plants, and the weather, and a time scale well beyond our own tiny time on earth. We loved the close-ups and look forward to your next views and descriptions of your time in Death Valley. G’night from Detroit (filled with snow and cold at the moment.) Harriet Saperstein

  2. Those were beautiful. Thank you for going and showing these, I felt like a little piece of me got to go too!

  3. When I was there, I thought the flowers bloomed every year during this season. I didn’t know how rare the occasion was and how lucky we were.

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